Cambridge theatergoers had memories brought back for them as they went to see Drayton’s production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. A production all ages can enjoy, regardless of whether they were from Buddy’s era or not, it was a show that made the audience want to get up and dance to the music.
“This is a terrific show that audiences are going to love,” Artistic Director Alex Mustakas said in a statement. “Buddy is classic in musical theatre and is one of the most successful rock ’n roll musicals in the world – it’s a wonderful tribute to a true artistic pioneer.”
The Buddy Holly Show played from August 8 until 31. Audiences were encouraged to dress up in ‘50s style clothing – from white shirts and blue jeans to sweater sets and poodle skirts.
The show itself was a collection of Buddy Holly’s music, and a tale of his rise to fame and struggle to escape being a country artist. He wanted to play his music – rock ‘n roll – his way and the actor portraying Buddy, Andy Christopher, pulled Buddy’s rebellious and idealistic personality off perfectly.
“It was such a short and dramatic career,” said Mary Elizabeth Milligan, a theatregoer who went to see Buddy. “It was so well presented. Even people who didn’t know what it was about would appreciate that era.”
The final scene of the play, which told of Buddy Holly’s tragic death in a plane crash, was of his last show with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson “The Big Bopper.”
“The last scene really captured the era of the ‘50s,” Milligan added, stating that that was her favourite part of the show.
Ryan Jagru, who performed an excellent rendition of Valen’s La Bamba, played Ritchie. Ryan G. Dunkin portrayed J.P. and did really well in revving the audience up and making them want to dance.
“I was moving my feet the whole time,” said Joanne Whiteway, another member of Buddy Holly’s audience. “It makes me want to move.” Whiteway also knows every one of Buddy Holly’s songs and even owns his CDs. She said the show made her want to go home and play his CD.
The talent of the individual performers was also astounding, audience members found. Despite all the dancing and singing, they weren’t even out of breath.
“This is a fantastic production,” said Ron Ellis, who has been with Drayton for 20 years. “It brings back memories,” he said. Ellis was 13 when Buddy Holly was making his rise to fame, and Ellis says he listened to all his music and has all his CDs. “[The cast] is so multitalented.”
From their vocal prowess, to the number of instruments they could play, to their phenomenal dancing, the cast really had the audience entranced. Sam Weber played Joe B. Maulin, a member of Buddy Holly’s original band, Buddy and the Crickets.
Weber played the cello for the majority of the show, amazing the audience with the stunts he pulled while playing, such as standing on the cello or laying on the ground while still playing. He also switched to the trumpet later in the show, after Buddy Holly left the band, and then showed off his dancing skills to the audience in the ending act.
“It was the best play that I’ve ever seen,” said Diane Morgan, who attended and dressed up in ‘50s attire for the show with her friend, Lisa Mcdonald. “They really included their audience.”
Both women found it hard to stay still and even had to sit back down once when they wanted to dance. “With all of the show, it was hard not to get out of your seat and dance,” said Mcdonald.
Alexis Bennett-Wheeler, a volunteer with the Dunfield Theatre, said a lot of people participated in the production by clapping to the music and singing along or even by getting up and dancing.
Wheeler’s husband, Don, enjoys volunteering with Dunfield to meet new people and enjoy the shows. “My favourite part is meeting new people and working with the staff,” he said.
The Dunfield Theatre is off to a great start in their inaugural period. They opened with Mary Poppins, which was a great hit, to Big Band Legends, to the comedy Sorry… I’m Canadian and now bringing back the legend of Buddy Holly with Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.
Next up for Cambridge to look forward to is Lend me a Tenor, which will play Sept. 25 to Oct. 12 and then Dunfield will end the season with its production of Peter Pan, from Nov. 20 to Dec. 22.
Tags: Andy Christopher, Artistic Director Alex Mustakas, Big Band Legends, Buddy Holly, cambridge, Diane Morgan, Dunfield Theatre, home, Joanne Whiteway, La Bamba, Lisa Mcdonald, Mary Elizabeth Milligan, Mary Poppins, new, Peter Pan, Ritchie Valens, Ron Ellis, Ryan Jagru, Sam Weber